Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 27, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make. If you have any questions you think I can answer, why fire away.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, how are you coming on the appointment of the advisory board to the economic administration?

THE PRESIDENT. Working on it and will shortly announce it.

Q. Advisory board for what, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Economic communication setup.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, it is beginning to look as if there will be no public housing bill. I wonder if you would like to comment on it?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. I have made comment in the form of messages on four different occasions. You can take anything you like out of any one of those messages. Still good today.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to veto the Bulwinkle bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question until it gets here, because I don't know what's in it.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to appoint a Presidential board on the threatened maritime strike?

THE PRESIDENT. It has not come up to me yet. I will think of that, though, when it does.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Ellender, coming out of your office today, said that you plan to visit the South this year. Will that be before election time?

THE PRESIDENT. Senator Ellender invited me to pay a visit to the South, and I told him nothing would please me better if it could be arranged, but I could make no definite appointments.

Q. You have been invited to Roanoke Island, N.C. Are you planning to go down there any time--

THE PRESIDENT. I will have to give you the same answer that I did to that other question. I can't tell whether I can go or not. I would like to go. I have been invited on these occasions in the past, for the same purpose, and couldn't go, but I would like to go if I could.

Q. Mr. President, if you went to South Carolina, you will perhaps go to Oak Ridge and Knoxville and some of those--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't promise. [Laughter]

Q. Can you give us the itinerary now, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 17-2 today to request General MacArthur to come home and testify on Far East relief. Will you join in that request?

THE PRESIDENT. The Senate Foreign--Foreign Relations Committee

Q. Appropriations Committee.

THE PRESIDENT.--Appropriations Committee has a perfect right to ask for the presence of General MacArthur, if he can give them any information that will be valuable to them. And of course I would be happy to see him come and accommodate the Appropriations Committee. He has been invited on numerous occasions by me to return and make a personal report to me, but his business has always kept him in Japan.

Q. You have invited him, sir?


[7.] Q. Mr. President, Dr. Weizmann1 indicated the other day that you had given him hope of lifting the arms embargo. I wonder if you will give us a little more detail--

THE PRESIDENT. The arms embargo is under consideration by the United Nations, and I have no comment on it.

1Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Provisional President of Israel.

Q. Mr. President, that is the United States embargo, isn't it?

THE PRESIDENT. It's an embargo by the United States made at the request of the Security Council of the United Nations, and it's a matter pending in the United Nations.

[8.] Q. In the civil rights message you said you had given instructions to end discrimination in the Armed Forces. The word from the Hill now seems to be that the draft bill is in jeopardy because of that instruction. For instance, the Russell amendment has been introduced which would permit a Negro to request that he be assigned to a unit of Negro troops only, which would of course offset your instructions. Are you apt to modify those instructions, or leave--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on the legislation because it has not been formulated. You never can tell what a bill is going to be. Usually, when it is introduced it has everything in it but the kitchen stove, and when it comes out of committee it's something entirely different.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, your Ambassador in England has been in conference with-repeatedly with the Foreign Office spokesman --representative of Britain during the past few days. Can you say anything about relations between America and Britain in relation to Palestine, which seem to be strained to--


[10.] Q. Mr. President, is there any comment on Senator Capehart's long reading of the Voice of America broadcast yesterday in the Senate?1

THE PRESIDENT. I am having that looked into. You see, that broadcast was not made by the State Department; it was made under a law passed by the Congress that private enterprise should control these broadcasts. I am having an investigation to see just who is at fault.

1Senator Capehart read translations of several scripts prepared and broadcast in Spanish by the National Broadcasting Company under contract with the Voice of America. (See Congressional Record, vol. 94, pp. 6462-6473, 6552-6564).

[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you had any recent communication from the Premier of the Russian state, Mr. Stalin--

THE PRESIDENT. No I have not.

Q.--directly to you ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have never had any communication from Mr. Stalin since Potsdam.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, do you favor registration of the Communist Party and its members?

THE PRESIDENT. I'll comment on that when the bill comes before me.

Q. In that regard, Mr. President, this morning Attorney General Clark handed down an administrative ruling to the effect that the Hatch Act prohibits Communists from holding Federal jobs, and he further stated definitely that the Communist Party does advocate the overthrow of the United States Government by force and violence. Are you backing him up in that, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the ruling of the Attorney General, and I know nothing about to what the ruling refers.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, there seems to be some difference of opinion between General Spaatz and Admiral Denfeld on whether the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved this 65,000-ton carrier. Secretary Forrestal reported that you and he approved it.

THE PRESIDENT. It was recommended in the last Budget Message. I signed that message, so undoubtedly it was an approval.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about the status of requests from the Jewish State of Palestine for a loan of $90 or $100 million?

THE PRESIDENT. So far as I know, no application has been made. If one is made, it will be handled in the usual manner and through the usual departments.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about the occasions on which you asked General MacArthur to return to Washington?

THE PRESIDENT. When General MacArthur signed the surrender document in Japan, I invited him to come home and accept a medal out here on the lawn. Admiral Nimitz, General Wainwright, General Marshall, and General Eisenhower have accepted, and he wired me that conditions were such that he thought he should remain in Japan.

On another occasion, a year or so after that, I told him that at his discretion I would be happy to have him return to the country and pay a visit to his relatives and his friends, and also pay a visit to the White House along the lines that the other commanders had paid to the White House. And the same answer was returned by General MacArthur.

Q. That was about a year later, you said?

THE PRESIDENT. That was about a year later, I judge.

Q. He said he was too busy?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no, he didn't think it was proper for him to leave at that time, and being he was there on the spot, he had entire discretion in the matter. He was not ordered to come home. It was just merely an invitation.

Q. Mr. President, as Commander in Chief you don't feel disposed to order him to come home?

THE PRESIDENT. That is not necessary.

Q. No.

THE PRESIDENT. He is in absolute control out there on the order that I gave. And you can't interfere with things of that sort, if you are going to have operation of it. I believe in delegating the authority and then backing the man up. And that is what we have done with General MacArthur.

Q. In substance, you will be very happy for him to come here and testify?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. If it is proper for him to leave Japan to testify before the Appropriations Committee, that is perfectly proper.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, among your various requests to Congress, is there any so important that if you do not get them you might call them back into special session?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will answer that as to the condition of the country at the time, just as I did last fall. I can't answer that now.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the settlement of the labor dispute between General Motors and the United Automobile Workers?

THE PRESIDENT. The only comment I have to make is that I am glad the dispute was settled by collective bargaining.

Q. Do you feel that the wage increase which General Motors granted will have an inflationary effect?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about the details of the contract, and I can't comment on that.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, would you like to comment on the selection of Mr. Joe L. Blythe as Democratic Treasurer?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment. I know he must be all right, or Mr. McGrath wouldn't have selected him.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report, recently published in a West Coast labor publication, that you are making it easy for Labor Secretary Schwellenbach to retire from the Cabinet by urging him to remain in the hospital?

THE PRESIDENT. That's a lie out of the whole cloth.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, it just occurred to me that perhaps you might have some report on the investigation of alleged Communist activities--disloyal activities within the Atomic Energy Commission, in particular at Oak Ridge and Hanford and at--

THE PRESIDENT. I have no information on that.

Q. Did you order the investigation, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. The investigation as ordered was at the time--very early in the game. There has been no report on it. There is no disloyalty there.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, did Dr. Weizmann suggest a loan to Israel?

THE PRESIDENT. He did not suggest a loan. He said he would like to have a loan, just like every other country. [Laughter] If you know of any other country that wouldn't like to have a loan, I wish you would name them.

Q. Did he suggest the amount?

THE PRESIDENT. He did not. We did not go into details. We talked about the question just as with you gentlemen here this afternoon.

Q. Is there any way financial aid could be extended to the Jewish State other than by special act of Congress? Are there any funds or any appropriations which we could use without consulting Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. There is the Export-Import Bank, and there is the World Bank. They make loans of that kind all the time.

Q. Mr. President, Dr. Weizmann said that he wanted part of that loan to be used for tanks and antitank guns?

THE PRESIDENT. He did not discuss the details with me. All I know about it is what he says in the paper.

Q. Well, that obviously would not come under the Export-Import Bank?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question. Those sources of supply are for money in this country as well as the Treasury of the United States.

Q. Did Dr. Weizmann say what he wanted the loan for?

THE PRESIDENT. He did not. He said he wanted a loan. Period. [Laughter]

Q. What did you say?

THE PRESIDENT. You have to have that? [More laughter] I simply told him that if the loan was necessary, after the state was fully in existence, he would have to go through the usual channels that such things go through.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, regarding the arms embargo shipments to Israel, the British, as I understand it, are shipping arms to the Arabs. What is the difference between the position of the British and our position?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that there should be any difference.

Q. Well, is the United Nations stopping us from shipping arms to them?

THE PRESIDENT. The United Nations Council requested an arms embargo several months ago, and we have complied with the request, in the interests of peace and to prevent bloodshed, and that request is still in effect.

Q. Well, did they also ask the British not to ship--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know about that. You will have to look up the record of the United Nations Security Council.

Q. Parallel case?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think so. I think we are in much better shape to ship arms than any other country.

Q. Do you propose that the United States initiate in the United Nations a reconsideration of this--

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, let's wait and see what the United Nations--what our representative in the United Nations decides to do. Whatever he does will have my backing.

Q. Mr. President, is there any clue on when some action of any kind might be taken?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there isn't.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on the exchange of diplomatic representatives between the United States and the State of Israel?

THE PRESIDENT. No. General Marshall commented on that I think yesterday to good effect.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and forty-eighth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 3:50 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232321

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